In desperate need of a win to keep their BBL finals chances alive, the Brisbane Heat will head to Sydney having lost their past two matches which has seen them slide down to fifth on the points table.
After making an extremely-slow start to the tournament, the Sydney Sixers have finally found some form winning their past two matches against the Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Stars. Frustration is an understatement when it comes to emotions running through the Sixers camp, they’ve had numerous under-performing individuals who were expected to light up the big stage, only to fall well-below the standards required. Who would have thought the loss of English-duo Jason Roy and Sam Billings would have actually improved their success rate? well, it’s done just that with new imports Joe Denly and Carlos Brathwaite already making an impact in their respective roles.
The most promising sign for the Sixers though would have to be Nic Maddinson’s aggressive intent against the Stars in their previous outing, he was a man on a mission at the MCG that evening. After making a handful of decent starts in BBL 07, Maddinson has found it difficult to take his innings to the next level, and for the first time in the tournament he unleashed his true potential. Underlined as a future star of Australian cricket, Maddinson gave the country a taste of what he has to offer with a blazing 62 off just 31 deliveries which featured five devastating blows over the rope. To go along with Maddinson’s spike in form, Daniel Hughes has scored 66* & 49* in his past two matches since returning which has given the middle order some freedom to play their shots. Expect Moises Henriques and Carlos Brathwaite to cash in on the Sixers momentum with the bat against the Heat later tonight, they’re on a late charge despite their position.
The performance Nathan Lyon dished up at the MCG the other night was something to behold, the star test spinner finished with figures of 3/18 from his four overs as he remained almost impossible to counteract. Lyon inflicted some damaging blows to the Stars top & middle order, so much so that he removed a trio of potential match winners featuring Ben Dunk, Kevin Pietersen and Peter Handscomb. The big test for the Sixers bowling attack will be how they approach Brendon McCullum, pace is a huge red light given the former Black Caps superstar thrives off pace on the ball early. Spin has been McCullum’s enemy in the past, so it might be worth a go early. Sean Abbott seems to be back to his reliable-wicket taking best after a tough period, while Ben Dwarshuis has impressed with his zippy & hard to play pace with the new ball. The small SCG boundaries might work in the Sixers favor, the Heat have a host of aggressive batsmen who will be eyeing off the pavilion which often leads to miss-hits.
Another crack at the BBL title seems to be slipping away from the Brisbane Heat yet again, they’ve been dealt with some unfortunate blows to their squad with Chris Lynn selected for the Australian ODI side but currently injured, and now key batsman Joe Burns who remains in doubt after an incident at training on Wednesday. Brisbane could possibly be staring down the barrel of three-consecutive defeats which wouldn’t sit well with Brendon McCullum who’s tried his best to set the standard this season. Baz’s 51 down in Hobart wasn’t enough to get the Heat over the line, and they now find themselves in hot water approaching their last couple of games in the tournament with results having to fall their way, not ideal.
This is where Alex Ross and Ben Cutting really need to help out McCullum at a time where the Heat aren’t at full strength, Ross is arguably the most entertaining middle order batsman Brisbane’s got to offer while Ben Cutting’s six-hitting ability will be desperately required if they’re to challenge the Sixers. This game is almost a do-or-die for the Heat, one more loss could end their 2017-18 BBL campaign which promised so much at the start of the tournament. Wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson has been striking them alright down the order in his past three outings, so he might be a key contributor in tonight’s match with the Heat low on batting stock.
The Brisbane Heats bowling has always been an issue since their initial startup in the franchise, they’ve always bulked up the batting department which has left little room for quality bowlers. In a side who’s most promising bowler is seamer Mark Steketee, the Heat were always going to struggle at some stage, and that’s been a theme of the past three seasons in the BBL. Losing Pakistani spinner Shadab Khan early in the tournament really has hurt them, he brought plenty to the table which was reflective in his performances. Shadab’s replacement Yasir Shah hasn’t been bad by any means, but he certainly doesn’t possess that X factor like his younger countryman. Speaking of spin bowlers, Mitchell Swepson was labeled Australia’s next test spinner behind Nathan Lyon, but his form in this format remains questionable. The 24-year-old produced a brilliant bowling spell against the Stars at the MCG earlier in the tournament taking 3/14, but apart from that it’s been tough times for the leggy. He’s been held wicketless six times in BBL 07, so hopefully in Swepson’s case, the SCG lives up to it’s name as a spinners wicket later this evening.
Top 4 fantasy picks | Sydney Sixers | BBL | 32nd match | Sydney
- Nic Maddinson
- Moises Henriques
- Daniel Hughes
- Nathan Lyon
Wildcard pick – Ben Dwarshuis
Top 4 fantasy picks | Brisbane Heat | BBL | 32nd match | Sydney
- Brendon McCullum
- Alex Ross
- Mitchell Swepson
- Sam Heazlett
Wildcard pick – Josh Lalor
Sydney Sixers (possible) – 1. Joe Denly 2. Daniel Hughes 3. Nic Maddinson 4. Moises Henriques 5. Jordan Silk 6. Carlos Brathwaite 7. Johan Botha (c) 8. Peter Nevill (wk) 9. Sean Abbott 10. Ben Dwarshuis 11. Nathan Lyon.
Brisbane Heat (possible) – 1. Jimmy Peirson (wk) 2. Brendon McCullum (c) 3. Sam Heazlett 4. Alex Ross 5. Ben Cutting 6. Marnus Labuschagne 7. Jason Floros 8. Josh Lalor/Brendan Doggett 9. Mark Steketee 10. Yasir Shah 11. Mitchell Swepson.